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1. Historical necessity for setting up Mandal Commission

Article 340 of the Indian Constitution:

It is obligatory for the government to promote the welfare of the Other Backward Classes (OBC). 

Talk of implementing welfare measures to this section (OBC) has ignited resentment especially among the high castes. 

This Article 340 provided the constitutional legitimacy for setting up Mandal Commission.

Article 340(1)

The President may by order appoint a commission, consisting of such persons as he thinks, fit to investigate the conditions of socially and educationally backward classes within the territory of India and the difficulties under which they labour and to make recommendations as to the steps that should be taken by the union or any state to remove such difficulties and as to improve ‘their condition and as to the grants that should be made, and the order appointing such commission shall define the procedure to be followed by the commission. 

Article 340(2)

A commission so appointed shall investigate the matters referred to them and present to the president a report setting out the facts as found by them and making such recommendations as they think proper. 

 

2. First Backward Classes Commission

(Kaka Kalelkar Commission)

Adhering to Article 340, the First Backward Classes Commission was set up by a presidential order on January 29, 1953 under the chairmanship of Kaka Kalelkar

Its terms of references were to:

  1. Determine the criteria to be adopted in considering whether any sections of the people in the territory of India in addition to the SC and ST as socially and educationally backward classes, using such criteria it was to prepare a list of such classes setting out also their approximate members and their territorial distribution.
  2. Investigate the conditions of all such socially and educationally backward classes and the differences under which they labour and make recommendations
    1. as to the steps that should be taken by the union or any state to remove such difficulties or to improve their economic condition, and
    2. as to the grants that should be made for the purpose by the union or any state and the conditions subject to which such grants should be made;
    3. Investigate such other matters as the president may hereafter refer to them and
    4.  Present to the president a report setting out the facts as found by them and making such recommendations as they think proper.

    For identifying socially and educationally backward classes, the commission adopted the following criteria:

    1. Low social position in the traditional caste hierarchy of Hindu society.
    2. Lack of general educational advancement among the major section of a caste or community.
    3. Inadequate or no representation in government services.
    4. Inadequate representation in the field of trade, commerce and industry 

    The commission submitted its report on March 30, ‘1955. It had prepared a list of 2,399 backward castes or communities for the entire country and of which 837 had been    classified as the ‘most backward’ Some of the most noteworthy recommendations of the commission were:

    1. Undertaking caste-wise enumeration of population in the census of 1961.
    2. Relating social backwardness of a class to its low position in the traditional caste hierarchy of Hindu society,
    3. Treating all women as a class as ‘backward’;
    4. Reservation of 70 per cent seats in all technical and professional institutions for qualified students of backward classes.
    5. minimum reservation of vacancies in all government services and local bodies for other backward classes on the following scale: class I = 25 per cent; class II = 33½ per cent; class III and IV = 40 per cent

Shri. Kaka Kalelkar, the Chairman, took a rather equivocal stand on the issue, though he did not record a formal minutes of dissent, in his forwarding letter to the President he opposed the important recommendations made by the commission

 

But this report was not accepted by the Central government on the ground that it had not applied any objective tests for identifying the Backward Class. Thus, there was a need of second backward classes of commission.